Monday, December 29, 2014

Sticky Buns



This nearly dead blog is being resurrected temporarily in order to share a sticky bun recipe. My father made these when I was a child, not necessarily for Christmas, but around that time. We usually had pecans from Alabama that we had shelled for baking projects. These days, I am regularly gifted with beautiful Alabama pecans, already shelled, sent by my wonderful Aunt Louise.  I was born in Fort Deposit, Alabama, home of Priester's Pecans. They are the best!

STICKY BUNS

The dough
  • 1 cup of some kind of milk. I happened to use almond milk.
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
  • 1 egg
  • a little salt
  • 2.5 - 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour (you can mix all purpose and whole wheat)

The filling
  • ½  stick of butter
  • ½ c brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • raisins, optional

The glaze
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions

Mix the dough ingredients in a stand up mixer until the flour is incorporated. If it’s too wet, keep adding flour until the dough stops sticking to the side of the bowl. Then continue to knead with dough hook for a while. If you use instant yeast, there is no need to heat the milk. The yeast will activate no matter what.


Move dough to a greased bowl to rise for at least an hour or overnight (best way).


Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola or grape seed oil, and add your dough ball back in. Roll around to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.


While dough is rising, prepare sticky glaze by mixing butter and brown sugar and spreading it in an even layer on the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Top with pecans and set aside.


On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 1/4 cup melted butter and top with 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins, if using.


Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. Then with a serrated knife, cut the dough into 1.5 - 2 inch sections and position in your 8x8 dish with the glaze layer on the bottom (you should have about 10 rolls). Cover with plastic wrap and set on top of the oven to let it briefly rise again while you preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, carefully invert and then serve immediately. Some of the glaze will stick to the pan, but you can scrape it out while it's hot and spread it on the sticky buns. This accounts for the blobs of sugar in the photo above.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Squash Filo Pie with Walnuts, Mint, and Feta

My contribution to this year's Thanksgiving dinner was Rose Shulman's Coiled Greek Winter Squash Pie.
 
The results were quite nice in terms of texture--a nice contrast between the earthy walnuts, squash, feta, and mint and the crispy filo. A tad more salt would have heightened the flavors, which were muted and a bit bland.

Our hosts provided the rest: a heritage turkey, potato "lasagne," cranberry sausage stuffing, pear sorbet, and a to-die-for pear tart. Both the sorbet and tart were made from their own pears. As with any good Thanksgiving dinner, I ate too much, but I didn't regret a bite. I feel quite lucky to have good friends and good food to share. The abundance we enjoy as middle class Americans is almost embarrassing.




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fig and Pig Pizza

Recently, we had the "fig and pig" pizza at Eva in Salt Lake City. My attempt to recreate it wasn't quite on the mark, but it was good anyway. Now that I make my pizza dough in the food processor, pizza is takes little time to prepare. The time spent composing the pie takes longer...




Fig and Pig Pizza

Arugula pesto (garlic, walnuts, arugula, olive oil)
Fig paste (dried figs, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey)
Fresh mozzarella
Prosciutto





Friday, October 19, 2012

Thai Green Curry

A series of events led me to make this dish.
1) My parents met at Milligan College round about 1956. Round about 1967, they returned to Milligan where my dad became a history professor.
2) One of the other teachers at Milligan met 4 year old me. His name was Guy Mauldin, and he stooped down to say, "I have a little girl the same age as you."
3) Skip forward many more years to 2012, when my mother died and Guy and Deanna Mauldin took my brother and me to lunch. We talked food, and I mentioned that I like to make Thai food but don't know where to get lemongrass. Several days later, Guy gave me bunches and bunches of lemongrass.

4) Skip back about 10 years. An eminent folklorist had a stroke. His friends began singing with him to help him regain his memory.
5) One of those friends was my husband, who became friends with another one of those friends, who happens to be an excellent gardener from whom I have received free basil, both thai and genovese.

The conditions under which this dish came to be would be hard to replicate, but the ingredients aren't THAT rare.

Thai Green Curry Paste
1 stalk of lemon grass, chopped into smallish pieces
a big handful of Thai basil
1 T. olive oil
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 hunk of ginger, thumb-sized or to your liking
a big handful of cilantro, leaves and stems
1/2 t. cumin or 1 t. cumin seeds
1/2 t. coriander seeds or 1 t. coriander
a pinch of cayenne (or fresh chile if you have it)
3 T. fish sauce (or soy sauce)
a third of a can of coconut milk

Whir all that up in a food processor or blender until its very smooth. Add a little more coconut milk if it gets to too thick and sticks to the sides of the bowl.

To make the curry, simmer the curry paste for a few minutes, then add chicken, shrimp, or tofu and the rest of the can of coconut milk. Simmer until your protein of choice is cooked, then add vegies of your choice. I used red bell pepper for contrast, along with sugar snap peas and asparagus. I served it on black rice, which is known for having more protein than other rices. The individual grains have the unfortunate appearance of rat poop, especially when uncooked. This is disconcerting when you find them on the counter, until you remember what they really are.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Provençal soupe au pistou

Looking over my past few posts, I see a trend--a trend that has probably led to my high cholesterol. Oh, the numbers. My total is 235 with the bad cholesterol at 143. Ouch.

Thus the need to find recipes that feature more vegetables and beans and less fat and refined carbs. So, no ice cream or banana cake for a while.

But I love this soup and can live without the goodies when food is this beautiful. The bright green of the zucchini and green beans was achieved by blanching them first and adding them to the soup at the last minute. The pistou on top was a product of the neighbor's basil-based generosity.

The recipe for Provençal soupe au pistou came from Martha Rose Shulman's Ready when you are: A compendium of comforting one-dish meals. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Catching Up

Real life has been getting in the way of my hobbies, which is why I haven't posted in a while. I will attempt to impress you with my productivity by posting several things that I have made recently that I happen to have pictures of.

Chocolate Ice Cream from David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop. A custard-based ice cream with cocoa and semisweet chocolate, I found this smooth and not overly sweet. I've used the same base to make coffee ice cream as well.

I made this foccacia after watching America's Test Kitchen. Their recipe starts with a biga, which allows good flavor to develop. You don't knead the dough at all, just fold it, which allows the dough to stay light. They don't include any oil in the recipe, which was surprising, but they have you generously oil the cake pans they're baked in and that turns out to be just the right amount.

Banana Cake from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Great crumb, great flavor, not greasy. What else is there to say? I have more bananas stockpiled in the freezer. If the cool-ish weather holds, I'll make some more soon.

Chard and Goat Cheese Torte adapted from Rose Shulman's recipe for Spinach Ricotta Torte in Mediterranean Harvest. I used locally made goat cheese and chard from our CSA. The photo shows the refrigerated leftovers, so perhaps it doesn't look as appetizing as it could...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Oven-Roasted Pulled Pork and Western North Carolina-style Barbecue Sauce

Turns out that I just love pork, which puts to rest all my former pretensions toward vegetarianism. Go ahead. Snicker.

During the last two years, going home to TN/NC requires at least one visit to a great barbecue place. My first forays into the indigenous cuisine were at The Ridgewood (this links to a video that will give a sense of the ambiance of The Ridgewood) and Dixie, where you can get an Alabama white barbecue sauce that is my favorite at Dixie (which sports no less than 6 to choose from).

Just last week I was visiting my parents and got to have great barbecue twice--once at Phil's Dream Pit in Kingport, TN and once at Little Pigs Barbecue in Asheville, NC. Real barbecue requires hickory smoking, which I could never replicate at home, but I thought I would give oven roasting a try. I bought a hunk of pork shoulder, which for some folkloric (I'm sure) reason is actually called Boston butt. Using the Joy of Cooking (75th anniversary edition) as a reference point, I made a dry rub with chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic salt, and brown sugar. I let that permeate the meat for a couple of hours. Then I seared the meat in olive oil in a large cast iron dutch oven, which then went into the oven for about 2 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. The result was tender and flavorful, if not smoky. But then, I can't always taste the smoke in genuine pit-smoked pork.


The sauce was inspired by two of the sauces I tasted recently. I wanted it to be sufficiently vinegary, but not thin. I wanted the tomato base, but mustard too. Here's the sauce recipe, approximately:
1/2 cup ketchup
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. grainy brown mustard
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T. smoked paprika
2 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. fish sauce
1 T. olive oil
a splash or two of hot sauce

The trick, really, is to keep tasting it until it tastes right to you. Goes well with a nice Zinfandel, which you can't get at Phil's Dream Pit!